More than 100 Rohingya refugees arrive in Indonesia after month at sea

Jakarta, Mar 7 (EFE).- More than 100 Rohingyas, the persecuted mainly-Muslim minority in Myanmar, were rescued on Sunday by fishermen and locals in the northern province of Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra after being adrift for almost a month.

The 114 Rohingyas, most of them men and children, arrived in a small boat on the shores of Aceh at 3 am on Sunday after leaving Myanmar 26 days ago, Reza Maulana, director of the local NGO Geutanyoe Foundation, which operates in Aceh, confirmed to EFE.

The Rohingya refugees have been temporarily housed in a mosque in the Alu Buya Pasi village while local authorities decide where to move them.

The NGO demands that the authorities set up an action plan for the reception of refugees and send healthcare workers permanently to Aceh, a semi-autonomous province in northwestern Indonesia governed by the Islamic Sharia law and the usual point of arrival.

“For example, yesterday, after a quick routine health check-up, they (the healthcare workers) immediately returned,” Nasruddin, the nonprofit’s humanitarian coordinator in Aceh, told EFE.

In December, another barge carrying over 100 Rohingya had also arrived in Aceh.

Such incidents evoke the 2015 refugee crisis, when hundreds of Rohingya were left stranded at sea under terrible conditions after the dismantling of a human trafficking network in Thailand and Malaysia.

At that time, a little more than a million Rohingya were estimated to be living in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state but in August 2017 the country’s military launched a campaign against them, which caused over 725,000 members of this minority to flee to the neighboring Bangladesh.

Myanmar faces charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice brought by Gambia, an African country with a Muslim majority, which denounced the killing of Rohingyas in November 2019.

During the trial in The Hague last week, Myanmar filed preliminary objections and asked the judges to declare themselves incompetent. The court is expected to resolve the matter in the coming months.

Myanmar authorities do not recognize the Rohingyas’ citizenship, labeling them as Bangladeshi immigrants, and have imposed several restrictions on the community, including curbs on their freedom of movement. EFE


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